Millions of wild animals are being kept as exotic pets or killed and turned into fashion accessories, according to a shock new report.
Seals, crocodiles, elephants and pythons are among those being killed or traded alive as demand soars from consumers in the west.
In just four years, over 2.7 million vulnerable animals from Africa were legally farmed or captured and then traded.Many would have suffered immensely with some even being boiled or skinned alive.
Experts say the industry is now pushing many wild animals to the brink of extinction. Global Wildlife Advisor at World Animal Protection, Dr Neil D’Cruze, said:
‘Trading animals in this way may be legal but it doesn’t make it right. ‘These are wild-animals, not factory-produced goods.’
A new report by the charity describes how vulnerable species are being turned into commodities and traded to the point of extinction.
It highlighted the plight of Nile crocodiles who are farmed and slaughtered for their leather. Between 2011 and 2015 – the latest figures available – over 189,000 skins were exported.
In Namibia there is a booming trade in the fur from cape seals. Each year thousands of the pups are rounded up and clubbed or suffocated to death.
The group said that adults were shot or clubbed and sometimes skinned alive for their fur to be used in fashion accessories, such as handbags and gloves.
Elephants are under attack from poachers wanting their horns for ivory. But there is also a trade in their skins, which are used for jackets and car interiors.
Because of their size, bullets often miss their mark resulting in a prolonged and agonising death. Zebras are also hunted for their unique black and white skins to be used as decoration in homes and businesses.
World Animal Protection said there is also a booming trade in the export of live animals to be kept as pets.
The most popular pets are ball pythons and over half a million have recently been shipped live from Africa.
The US is the biggest destination where they are destined for life inside a glass display tank. African grey parrots were also exported across the globe and are said to suffer considerably during capture and transport.
A total of 289,006 birds that should be flying free are now caged.
Dr D’Cruze added: ‘This cruel industry hurts wild animals and can damage Africa’s biodiversity with devastating long-term impact on livelihoods and economies too.
‘How did we get to the point where animals are exported and greedily exploited for our personal pleasure? ‘Does the life of an animal mean nothing at all?’
The 2.7 million animals mentioned in the report – entitled Exploiting Africa’s wildlife – the ‘Big 5’ and ‘Little 5’ -are traded legally but the illegal wildlife trade is still booming.
Pangolins are now considered the most heavily-trafficked mammal in the world and they suffer agonising deaths.
They are boiled alive to remove their keratin scales, which are highly valued in traditional medicine in the Far East.
At-risk rhinos are still being poached for their ivory and in 2017 more than 1,000 were killed in South Africa alone.
This article was first published by Metro on 5 October 2019.
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